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house Bill H.R. 1994

Should It Be Easier For the VA to Fire Corrupt Or Incompetent Employees?

Argument in favor

The VA needs to be able to fire, demote, or otherwise punish employees that perform poorly in their jobs. Why should incompetent federal employees keep their jobs when their private sector counterparts would be fired?

crq's Opinion
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07/29/2015
For too long we have seen our Men & Women in uniform put in the most extreme circumstances within the VA & other Veteran associated venues...these people have fought, died, lost limbs, etc. When are we as a Nation going to thank them with excellent care? Help them in caring ways as a grateful nation should? Why? Why do we slap them in the face after they have given limbs, mental stability, sleepless nights, etc. for the cause of war? My God, are we really that selfish? Or are we just inhumane? I pray that it's just that we are stupid ignorant creatures... We must show thanks to these Men & Women that cannot be with their families, they have left their children &/or their families to fight and often die...give them the thanks they require, if nothing else than common human decency...
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BTSundra's Opinion
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01/14/2016
They shouldn't just be able to fire incompetent employees, we should fire EVERY incompetent government employee.
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Judith's Opinion
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07/29/2015
There should be performance reviews and action should be taken when there is poor performance, just as in any other organization!
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Argument opposed

All federal agencies should have flexibility should have more flexibility to fire incompetent employees — not just the VA. It's unfair to single out federal workers from one troubled agency rather than reforming the entire bureaucracy.

AutumnStarlight's Opinion
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07/29/2015
This is a scam to chip away at workers' rights, backed by Concerned Veterans of America, a Koch-funded front group bent on privatizing vets' healthcare. It won't fix incompetence or corruption in the VA. Rather, it makes low-level employees at-will employees who can be fired at will by corrupt and incompetent employers, just like in Right-to-Work (for Peanuts) states. There's also a $2.5 billion VA budget shortfall that it doesn't mention, let alone fix.
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Jewel's Opinion
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07/29/2015
Have the same standards for all Federal employees, including members of Congress, and I will enthusiastically support it.
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Laylah51's Opinion
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07/29/2015
Here is what it is REALLY all about: "The Koch Brothers are About to Destroy Veterans' Health Care and No One Knows About It" http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/07/28/1406562/-The-Koch-Brothers-are-About-to-Destroy-Veterans-Health-Care-and-No-One-Knows-About-It Further down in the article you will see that Takano and Blumenthal have better ideas for doing what needs to be done.
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What is House Bill H.R. 1994?

This bill would give the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) more power to remove or demote a VA employee based on performance or misconduct. This could manifest by removing them from the civil service, demoting them through a reduction in status or annual pay rate.

The bill also limits the awards and bonuses paid to VA employees and outlines a new process for handling whistleblower complaints. 

Introduced in response to a very public scandal in 2014, this bill focuses on the past failure of the VA to take stern disciplinary action against corrupt or incompetent employees. As of April 2015 the VA had only begun disciplining a handful of employees embroiled in the scandal, and had yet to fire any.

Don't worry VA workers — Under this bill, employees have the right to appeal before the Merit Systems Protection Board within seven days of their removal or demotion. An administrative judge would also have to make a final decision within 45 days of the appeal — otherwise the original decision becomes final.

The VA can't remove or demote an employee without the approval of the Office of Special Counsel if the employee on the chopping block seeks "corrective action".

People who are appointed to a permanent position (within the competitive service, or in parts of the Senior Executive Service) have to go through an 18-month probationary period. That probation can be extended by the VA Secretary, and ended by the employee’s supervisor.

Impact

VA employees accused of misconduct facing termination or demotion, people elected for a permanent job in the competitive service; the Merit Systems Protection Board; and the administrators in the VA — including the Secretary of the VA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1994

$0.00
The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would reduce costs by $145 million over the 2016-2020 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) criticized the VA for its “overwhelming lack of accountability in the wake of the VA scandal,” the severity of which is “precisely the type of situation that makes the average citizen lose faith in their government.”

Among the groups that have expressed support for this legislation are the American Legion, Concerned Veterans for America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The VFW said in a statement that “VA employees need to understand that if they harm veterans, then they will be fired. This bill delivers on that idea and is worthy of our support.” 

The White House has already threatened to veto this bill on the grounds that it creates a disparity in how VA employees are treated compared to other federal employees which could make it harder for the agency to attract quality workers. The president of the American Federation of Government Employees agreed with the Obama Administration, saying that the bill would eliminate due process for VA workers.


Of Note: Early in 2014, the VA Health Administration scandal became widely publicized after it was revealed that 35 veterans had died waiting to receive care from VA healthcare facilities.

A VA audit conducted after the scandal came to light found that over 120,000 veterans were on the waiting lists or never received medical care. The audit cited demand in excess of capacity as a contributing factor in the crisis, which led to VA officials using unofficial waiting lists to make wait times appear shorter — a practice that was rewarded with bonuses.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Parker Knight)

AKA

VA Accountability Act of 2015

Official Title

To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the removal or demotion of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs based on performance or misconduct, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • The house Passed July 29th, 2015
    Roll Call Vote 256 Yea / 170 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
      Economic Opportunity
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedApril 23rd, 2015

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    For too long we have seen our Men & Women in uniform put in the most extreme circumstances within the VA & other Veteran associated venues...these people have fought, died, lost limbs, etc. When are we as a Nation going to thank them with excellent care? Help them in caring ways as a grateful nation should? Why? Why do we slap them in the face after they have given limbs, mental stability, sleepless nights, etc. for the cause of war? My God, are we really that selfish? Or are we just inhumane? I pray that it's just that we are stupid ignorant creatures... We must show thanks to these Men & Women that cannot be with their families, they have left their children &/or their families to fight and often die...give them the thanks they require, if nothing else than common human decency...
    Like (11)
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    This is a scam to chip away at workers' rights, backed by Concerned Veterans of America, a Koch-funded front group bent on privatizing vets' healthcare. It won't fix incompetence or corruption in the VA. Rather, it makes low-level employees at-will employees who can be fired at will by corrupt and incompetent employers, just like in Right-to-Work (for Peanuts) states. There's also a $2.5 billion VA budget shortfall that it doesn't mention, let alone fix.
    Like (6)
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    They shouldn't just be able to fire incompetent employees, we should fire EVERY incompetent government employee.
    Like (7)
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    There should be performance reviews and action should be taken when there is poor performance, just as in any other organization!
    Like (5)
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    Have the same standards for all Federal employees, including members of Congress, and I will enthusiastically support it.
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    YES IT SHOULD. The corruption has gone on for decades. Get rid of the money sucking, derelict employees, no matter what their position.
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    Here is what it is REALLY all about: "The Koch Brothers are About to Destroy Veterans' Health Care and No One Knows About It" http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/07/28/1406562/-The-Koch-Brothers-are-About-to-Destroy-Veterans-Health-Care-and-No-One-Knows-About-It Further down in the article you will see that Takano and Blumenthal have better ideas for doing what needs to be done.
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    This is a Koch plan to destroy Veterans care.
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    Um, yes. Silly question.
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    Reduce costs and hold them accountable. This should be federal government policy.
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    This has variables as I have personally experienced this. Fire all those that are incompetent; however, reality is this > when an employee whistleblows against policy, the employee is fired or "laid off" and this is very sad and it has happened and not one state entity has listened or wanted to get involved with whistleblowing. These are laws that need to be revamped on the books!
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    Yes, unless it is being done for political purposes.
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    Of course! The VA has more than adequately demonstrated that it is top heavy with incompetent workers. No private health care provider would ever tolerate so many useless employees. The veterans suffer from the bureaucratic bloat as the incompetents suck off money that shoulder
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    Is this even to be questioned? What organization in society would be justified in harboring incompetents let alone the corrupt? If the latter characterization applies they should be locked out of their workplace by 4 PM. For the merely incompetent there should be outplacement concurrent with termination.
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    I don't care about the rights of VA workers. This law should apply to all federal agencies.
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    Absolutely. To wait months if not years for justifiable termination is ludicrous. Stop the bleeding.
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    The VA is currently in extremely bad shape. The VA needs to step up its game, any employee who isn't willing to work hard to help these veterans doesn't deserve the job.
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    There is a procedure in place for terminating employees that applies to all employees. If Congress wants to make changes, while still retaining collective bargaining rights of employees, they should do so. Singling out the VA is a poor policy approach.
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    Stuff like this will cause a witch hunt.
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    Why would we want incompetent and corrupt people working with some of our most vulnerable members of society?
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